Author: Joe Arnold

Kentucky electric co-ops assisting after Ida

More than 160 personnel and contractors head to Louisiana

More than 160 personnel and contractors from electric cooperatives in Kentucky are providing mutual aid to help restore power in Louisiana after Hurricane Ida.

In addition to more than 40 employees from five electric cooperatives in Kentucky responding to DEMCO, an electric cooperative in the Greater Baton Rouge area, co-ops have also released more than 120 contractors to deploy to areas ravaged by the storm.

“The catastrophic damage to electric infrastructure caused by Hurricane Ida will require a massive team effort to restore power,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “We are praying for our sister co-ops in the region and for the safety of everyone assisting. By responding to natural disasters in other states, Kentucky co-op crews gain invaluable experience to ultimately help them respond to outages here at home.”

Crews from Nolin RECC and the co-op’s Wide Open Utility Service subsidiary rolled out Tuesday. Crews from Kenergy Corp. and South Kentucky RECC are heading to Louisiana on Wednesday, and co-op crews from Shelby Energy and Fleming-Mason Energy are scheduled to deploy on Thursday.

DEMCO, the largest co-op in Louisiana, reports extensive damage to transmission poles and substation transformers. “Restoration will be a weeks-long effort,” said Randy Pierce, DEMCO CEO and General Manager. Sixty transmission poles are down as well as more than 300 three-phase poles, which affects an estimated 60,000-80,000 co-op consumer-members.

Coordinated by Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, mutual aid crews from Kentucky co-ops are deployed to specific sister cooperatives who have requested their help. On daily conference calls, safety teams from each state assess optimal deployments.

Though mutual aid crews responded to winter storms earlier this year, the Ida response is the first mutual aid deployment for hurricane relief since last year. Last September, 87 employees from twelve Kentucky electric co-ops helped restore power to a co-op in southwest Alabama after Hurricane Sally. In October, 73 Kentucky co-op employees helped restore power in Louisiana after Hurricane Delta. About 50 co-op personnel responded later that month to Hurricane Zeta relief in Georgia.

The top priority of each local Kentucky co-op is service to its own consumer-members. Before committing resources to mutual aid requests, each co-op ensures it has ample crews available for all local needs, including routine maintenance and emergencies.

In addition, Kentucky-based United Utility Supply Cooperative has reached out to cooperative distributors in the region to offer its assistance of material and supplies.

Because the national network of transmission and distribution infrastructure owned by electric cooperatives is built to federal standards, line crews from any co-op in America can arrive on the scene ready to provide emergency support, secure in their knowledge of the system’s engineering.

Governor, co-ops partner to ‘Beautify the Bluegrass’

Initiative encourages Kentuckians to spruce up local communities with beautification projects

Gov. Andy Beshear and Kentucky Electric Cooperatives are encouraging Kentuckians to “Beautify the Bluegrass” for the fifth straight year by improving public spaces across the commonwealth.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen Kentuckians come together again and again to protect their communities. As we head into a beautiful, hopeful spring and summer, we’re asking Kentuckians to come together in a new way, by identifying a project to help revamp, improve or beautify their community,” said Gov. Beshear. “From landscaping to painting, dozens of Kentucky communities have been enhanced in recent years through this initiative, and I am excited to see how our people will ‘Beautify the Bluegrass’ again in 2021.”

Kentuckians are encouraged to submit “before and after” photos and a description of their projects to Kentucky Living magazine by Aug. 20, 2021. Submissions can include existing projects performed since August 2020.
Kentuckians will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite project on KentuckyLiving.com Sept. 6-17, 2021, and Gov. Beshear will announce the results this fall. Kentucky Living, the flagship publication of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives, also will recognize the winning project.

Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, the statewide association of Kentucky’s 26 locally owned and operated electric cooperatives, joined the “Beautify the Bluegrass” effort in 2018, in partnership with the Governor’s Office, because the initiative’s goals align with the cooperatives’ mission to improve quality of life in the communities they serve.

“Cooperatives are led by, belong to and were built by the communities we serve,” says Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “Our member co-ops are excited to partner with Gov. Beshear to recognize Kentuckians who roll up their sleeves and complete beautification projects because they care about their community.”

“We can think of no better way to celebrate the energy of Kentucky than by supporting efforts to take pride in our local communities,” says Anita Travis Richter, Kentucky Living editor.

Previous “Beautify the Bluegrass” winners include the Leslie County Community Canoe Cleanup, Carroll County Friends of Camp KYSOC and the improvements to a downtown park in Mt. Sterling.

Co-ops urge lawmakers to vote NO on ‘pole tax’

To protect co-op consumer-members, Kentucky’s electric cooperatives are urging lawmakers to vote down any attempts to tack broadband costs onto the electric bills of local ratepayers.

Some for-profit telecommunications companies are behind an effort to pass along the “pole attachment” costs of broadband expansion to electric cooperatives. This cost shift would trigger rate increases by the not-for-profit cooperatives. Despite co-ops explaining this net effect of pole attachment charges, telecom companies are pushing forward with this plan anyway.

“Legislators need to hear from you and other local electric ratepayers that these multi-billion dollar for-profit companies who are already receiving hundreds of millions of tax dollars to expand broadband service, should not pad the pockets of their shareholders by adding these extra costs to your power bill,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives.

  • FACT: If broadband providers succeed in passing along these unrelated broadband costs to electric bills, all ratepayers will see higher electric bills, not just the ones who might gain broadband service.
  • FACT: For years, Kentucky’s electric cooperatives have worked to accommodate the needs of telecommunications providers, allowing access to the cooperative pole network and relieving telecoms from the burden of having to build their own systems.
  • FACT: Kentucky’s electric cooperatives have engaged in good-faith discussions with broadband providers and the Public Service Commission to review and modernize pole attachment regulations with the shared goal of speeding up broadband expansion while preserving the safety and reliability of both the public and line workers.
  • FACT: If an electric utility pole is sufficient to provide electric service, but enhancements to the pole are necessary to accommodate an additional attachment (such as broadband), those “make ready” costs are the obligation of the broadband company, not a local cooperative.

“Broadband companies must not be allowed to hide the cost of doing business in the electric bills of rural Kentuckians,” Perry said. “Co-ops are owned by the people we serve, we are working to protect your interests, and we need your help, so lawmakers understand this issue is important to you.”

Click here to tell your legislator “STOP Hidden Fees by Voting NO on Pole Attachments in Kentucky.”

The importance of rural voting

Kentucky Electric Cooperatives President & CEO Chris Perry teamed up with Kentucky Farm Bureau President Mark Haney on the following op-ed that appeared in newspapers and websites across the commonwealth:

In communities across the country, children are taught from a young age about the importance of getting out on Election Day and voting. The right to vote is the cornerstone of any democracy and an important tool for making our voices heard in the political process.

These days, with partisanship reaching record highs, it’s easy to want to tune out the political talk and focus on our families and life at home. But we must stay engaged and take the time to ensure we are informed. From expansion of broadband across rural Kentucky to the crafting of future Farm Bills to determining tax rates in local towns — those elected on Nov. 3 will make decisions that have everyday impacts on rural Kentuckians.

Yes, you heard that right: the people we elect on Nov. 3 will make decisions that impact our daily lives. Voting really is that important!

And to be clear, exercising the right to vote doesn’t begin at the ballot box. In the weeks leading up to an election, it’s our responsibility to be informed about the issues at hand and the candidates’ position on those issues.

As organizations that operate throughout the commonwealth, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives and Kentucky Farm Bureau understand the issues rural Kentuckians face and are committed to making life better for the individuals and communities we serve. Voting has always been and continues to be a critical part of the equation.

Each election cycle, Kentucky Farm Bureau hosts candidate forums on every level — from U.S. Senate to local races — to ensure our members know exactly where candidates stand on rural issues. KFB is a grassroots organization, and we know that informed voters making their voice heard via elections is of utmost importance.

Since 2016, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives has operated “Co-ops Vote,” a partnership with the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office that encourages rural voices to make sure their voices are heard in the commonwealth’s primary and general elections. We also regularly ask candidates their position on issues that impact our members and publish their responses in our flagship publication, Kentucky Living.

Whether you are involved with our organizations or not, you owe it to yourself, your family, and your neighbors to take some time to learn about your candidates and weigh in on what’s important to rural Kentucky.

With new protocols in place to minimize the spread of COVID-19, voting in 2020 is sure to look and feel a bit different than in years past. Instead of heading to your polling place on Election Day, you may be mailing in your ballot or opting to vote early. The good news is, with so many options, voting has never been easier or more accessible.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this unpredictable and difficult year, it’s that we should never take anything for granted. That includes our shared responsibility to vote, even if your choice is different than your neighbor’s.

Please join us and your fellow Kentuckians in casting your ballot this election season — rural Kentucky is depending on you!

Crews from six Kentucky co-ops assisting in Georgia after Zeta

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (October 30, 2020) – For the third time in six weeks, dozens of Kentucky electric cooperative line technicians are headed south to assist in power restoration. Hurricane Zeta knocked out power to nearly 2 million homes and business across five states.

Nearly 50 employees from six electric cooperatives in Kentucky are deploying to three sister co-ops in northern Georgia that requested their help.

Carroll EMC (Nolin RECC and South Kentucky RECC)
• The co-op’s infrastructure sustained extensive damage including broken poles and downed lines when wind gusts exceeding 60 mph met saturated ground. “We haven’t had damage like this since Hurricane Opal in 1995,” said Chief Operating Officer Jerome Johnston. “In many areas, it is like a completely new construction job.”

Amicalola EMC (Farmers RECC, Warren RECC and Kenergy)
• Extremely high winds and heavy rain crashed through the co-op’s service area early Thursday, knocking out power to more than 38,000 Amicalola EMC members. Outages are being reported in all ten counties served by the co-op. A substantial number of trees are down in every county, with a high number falling across power lines, bringing the lines and power poles down with them.

GreyStone Power (West Kentucky RECC and Nolin RECC)
• About 33,000 consumer-members are without service. “We are grateful for the help and look forward to having their knowledge, experience and commitment to the cooperative difference helping us out,” the co-op posted on social media.

Coordinated by Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, mutual aid crews from Kentucky co-ops are deployed to specific sister cooperatives who have requested their help. On daily conference calls, safety teams from each state assess optimal deployments.

In September, 87 crews from twelve Kentucky electric co-ops helped restore power to a co-op in southwest Alabama after Hurricane Sally. Earlier this month, 73 Kentucky co-op employees helped restore power in Louisiana after Hurricane Delta.

The top priority of each local Kentucky co-op is service to its own consumer-members. Before committing resources to mutual aid requests, each co-op ensures it has ample crews available for all local needs, including routine maintenance and emergencies.

“This has been an especially difficult hurricane season for our fellow cooperatives in the southeastern United States,” said Chris Perry, President and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “We are praying for them and for the safety of everyone assisting. By responding to natural disasters in other states, Kentucky co-op crews gain invaluable experience to ultimately help them respond to outages here at home.”

In addition, United Utility Supply Cooperative is responding to power restoration needs for co-ops affected by Zeta across the region. The Kentucky-based co-op has implemented its storm emergency plan, providing round-the-clock support to meet the material needs of co-ops.

Because the national network of transmission and distribution infrastructure owned by electric cooperatives is built to federal standards, line crews from any co-op in America can arrive on the scene ready to provide emergency support, secure in their knowledge of the system’s engineering.

Kentucky electric co-ops deploy to Louisiana for Hurricane Delta recovery

Crews from at least ten Kentucky co-ops gearing up to restore power

In response to a request from an electric cooperative in Louisiana, at least 70 electric co-op employees from Kentucky are joining power restoration efforts after Hurricane Delta brought even more damage to the same area devastated by Hurricane Laura in August.

Delta made landfall late Friday night as a strong Category 2 hurricane and swept through southwest Louisiana. At the peak of the storm, more than 90,000 electric co-op consumer-members across Louisiana were without electricity due to fallen wires, damaged poles, and severe flooding.

“Hurricane Delta came ashore in the already storm-torn southwest Louisiana and moved northeastward through the state, causing damage to all our ALEC member electric cooperatives’ systems,” said Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives (ALEC) CEO Jeff Arnold. “The Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives (ALEC) has once again initialized our mutual-aid network to recruit help from line workers from other states to assist in the recovery.”

The storm caused substantial damage to the infrastructure at Beauregard Electric Cooperative, where Kentucky co-op mutual aid crews are now heading. All of the co-op’s 42,648 consumer-members lost power—an event seen for only the third time in its 80-year history, including Hurricane Rita in 2005, Hurricane Laura just six weeks ago, and now Hurricane Delta.

Some of the same Kentucky co-ops that deployed crews to Hurricane Sally last month are gearing up for more hurricane relief. In September, 87 crews from twelve Kentucky electric co-ops helped restore power to a co-op in southwest Alabama.

“Our members were so supportive through Hurricane Laura, and I have confidence that we will have that support through this restoration effort as well,” said Kay Fox, vice president of marketing and member services for Beauregard Electric Cooperative. “Our crews will join forces again with other states to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.”

The top priority of each local Kentucky co-op is service to its own consumer-members.  Before committing resources to mutual aid requests, each co-op ensures it has ample crews available for all local needs, including routine maintenance and emergencies.

The list of Kentucky electric cooperatives set to deploy lineworkers includes Cumberland Valley Electric, Fleming Mason Energy, Jackson Purchase Energy Cooperative, Kenergy, Nolin RECC, Owen Electric, Shelby Energy, South Kentucky RECC, Warren Rural Electric and West Kentucky RECC.

Through a careful coordination of mutual aid from co-ops across the Midwest and Southeast, co-op crews are assigned to specific co-ops in need of assistance. On daily conference calls, safety teams from each state assess optimal deployments.

“Even before Delta made landfall, co-op crew members in Kentucky were already communicating that they wanted to help,” said Chris Perry, President and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “By responding to natural disasters in other states, Kentucky co-op crews gain invaluable experience to help them respond to outages here at home. We are praying for the safety of co-op crews and the people they are helping.”

In addition, United Utility Supply Cooperative is responding to Hurricane Delta needs. The Kentucky-based co-op has implemented its storm emergency plan, providing round-the-clock support to meet the material needs of co-ops.

Because the national network of transmission and distribution infrastructure owned by electric cooperatives is built to federal standards, line crews from any co-op in America can arrive on the scene ready to provide emergency support, secure in their knowledge of the system’s engineering.

Co-ops credit McConnell, Barr for coronavirus relief help

As Kentucky families and communities cope with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, the electric cooperatives which serve them are expressing gratitude to the commonwealth’s congressional delegation for its advocacy and support of legislation that has provided relief.

“In particular, I want to highlight the eagerness and diligence of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Congressman Andy Barr to connect with our rural communities to ensure that legislation in Washington addresses real needs back home,” says Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives.

Perry says the health and well-being of rural Kentuckians and the electric co-ops that serve them are inextricably linked, and the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has the potential to be catastrophic. The sudden and extreme rise in Kentucky’s unemployment rate due to the pandemic lockdown of the state’s economy is not just a statistic to co-ops.

“These numbers represent the struggles of our neighbors, our co-op consumer-members,” Perry says. “As Kentucky and our nation cope with this crisis, it is more important than ever to know that our elected representatives have our back and we have their ear.”

Leader McConnell, Rep. Barr and their respective staffs have stayed in regular contact with Kentucky co-ops, listening to the needs and concerns “on the ground” back home in Kentucky.

“These open lines of communication have helped them not only craft meaningful relief legislation,” Perry says. “but also advocate for co-ops and local consumer-members as all of us worked to determine the most appropriate application of federal relief.”

For instance, Perry credits quick action by the lawmakers to ensure the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration clarified the eligibility of Kentucky’s rural electric cooperatives for specific funding so that co-ops could best understand their options as they weathered substantial financial losses over the last few months.

“Since Congress established the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), I have been working tirelessly to advocate for rural electric cooperatives eligibility for these critical forgivable loans,” said Congressman Barr. “Over the last several weeks, I have held calls with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and other high-ranking officials at the Treasury Department to advocate for rural electrical cooperatives. I am pleased that the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration clarified that rural electric cooperatives are now eligible for PPP loans.”

“The PPP is helping to save tens of millions of jobs as a centerpiece of the CARES Act I introduced,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Right here in Kentucky, more than 45,000 small businesses have received federal assistance to keep their lights on and their workers on payroll. I’m glad Kentucky’s electric cooperatives can tap into the PPP in their work to power our communities and maintain affordable prices through this crisis. As Senate Majority Leader, I’m constantly working with the Trump administration and my colleagues to deliver the aid Kentucky needs to beat this virus.”

Perry said that as future recovery efforts take shape, co-ops look forward to continuing to work with elected officials on proposals that ensure electric co-ops have the flexibility and financial relief they need to ensure the delivery of affordable, reliable electricity.

“From increasing federal assistance for utility payments to supporting high-quality broadband in rural America, the Commonwealth’s electric cooperatives stand ready to support bipartisan solutions for the communities we serve,” Perry said.

 

Youth Tour goes ‘virtual’

Coronavirus changes co-op plans

(March 27, 2020) – With the Frankfort Youth Tour of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, elected leaders are making sure that the 150 high school juniors selected for the leadership program are still receiving a virtual dose of civic engagement.
Video messages by Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams and Representative Samara Heavrin highlight the “Virtual Frankfort Youth Tour” released by Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. Other elected leaders are also invited to add their messages to the video.

“Now more than ever we need those of you who are eligible to register to vote, and we need poll workers” says Adams, whose message focused on rural voting. He credited his election in November to voters in rural counties saying: “My grandfather made me this wooden state of Kentucky after I won my race. Look how many counties are red, rural counties. Never forget every vote counts.”
Previously scheduled for March 17, the 2020 Frankfort Youth Tour was to also kick off this year’s Co-ops Vote initiative to encourage civic engagement by local consumer-members of Kentucky co-ops. Electric cooperatives serve 117 of Kentucky’s 120 counties.
“We are really sorry to miss the opportunity to take students to Frankfort. It’s not only an opportunity for our students to learn more about Kentucky’s government, but for those that go on to the Washington Youth Tour, it creates an even deeper connection between local and national leadership” says Sarah Fellows of Nolin RECC.
For nearly fifty years, Kentucky’s local electric cooperatives have sponsored youth tours of both Frankfort and Washington, D.C., selecting rising young leaders in their service territories to gain a personal understanding of American history, civic affairs, and their role as citizens and members of electric cooperatives.
“It saddens me that we had to cancel the Frankfort Tour, but it was the best decision,” says Vanessa Blagg of Jackson Purchase Energy. “Our students’ health and well-being are of the utmost important to us.”
“My mom told me the trip to Frankfort was cancelled,” says Gabe McFadyen, a Warren RECC student. “I’m bummed, but I understand.”
Heavrin, who was sponsored on the 2009 Washington Youth Tour by Warren RECC, says the experience opened her to career opportunities she didn’t know existed. After working on Capitol Hill and the Kentucky State Treasurer’s office, Heavrin was elected in November to represent Kentucky’s 18th House District, serving Grayson and Hardin Counties.
“I became the youngest woman ever to serve in the Kentucky General Assembly and I truly give that all up to my opportunity to be on the Washington Youth Tour,” Heavrin says. “I’m so thankful Kentucky Electric Cooperatives invested in me just like they are investing in you today. What an incredible opportunity you have to learn more about our government and a life as a public servant.”
In deciding to postpone the 2020 Frankfort Youth Tour, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives heeded the call of Governor Andy Beshear to avoid large social gatherings. Since then, Beshear has only intensified those public health directives.
“The safety and quality of life of our local co-op consumer-members are our priorities,” says Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “We hope to find an alternative date in the future to continue this important commitment to Kentucky’s future.”

Kentucky co-ops cheer House vote for RURAL Act

The United States House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the RURAL Act, protecting more than 900 electric cooperatives throughout the nation from the risk of losing their tax-exempt status when they accept government grants for disaster relief, broadband service and other programs that benefit co-op members.

The Senate is poised to pass the bill later this week, and President Trump is expected to sign it into law.

Kentucky Electric Cooperatives has been advocating for the RURAL Act with Kentucky’s Congressional delegation, with four co-sponsors from Kentucky,  Rep. Andy Barr, Rep. James Comer,  Rep. Brett Guthrie, and Rep. Hal Rogers. Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth also voted in favor of the bill.

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (Ky-6) meets with Kentucky electric cooperative leaders. Photo: Joe Arnold

In addition, Kentucky’s co-ops have been encouraged by the support of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on the issue. McConnell listened to the concerns of co-op leaders at the Kentucky Electric Cooperatives Annual Meeting in November.

“We appreciate the members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation who listened to our concerns and are standing up for the local consumer-members of Kentucky co-ops,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives.  The statewide association represents 26 co-ops in Kentucky.

U.S. Rep. James Comer (Ky-1) meets with Kenergy CEO Jeff Hohn. Photo: Joe Arnold

“The overwhelming support of the RURAL Act, despite what congressional observers considered its unlikely passage, also speaks to the strength of the electric cooperative program when local consumer-members speak with one voice,” Perry continued. “The passage of this legislation is an affirmation of cooperative principles. We are all in this together.”

The RURAL Act is the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s top legislative priority for the year because of the profound threat to the business model of not-for-profit co-ops. Tens of thousands of co-op leaders, employees and members across the country rallied to advocate passage of the bill.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (Ky-5) meets with East Kentucky Power Cooperative President and CEO Tony Campbell. Photo: Joe Arnold

“This package preserves the fundamental nature of the electric cooperative business model and will save electric co-ops tens of millions of dollars each year,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “Moreover, it protects co-op members from unfair increases in their electric rates and provides certainty to co-ops that leverage federal and state grants for economic development, storm recovery and rural broadband deployment.”

Lawmakers passed the popular bipartisan legislation in the final hours of the 2019 session as part of a larger tax and spending bill that funds the government through September 2020.

Big Rivers President and CEO Bob Berry (left) listens to remarks by U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie at the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Joe Arnold

The bill’s passage fixes a problem created in 2017 when Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which redefined government grants to co-ops as income rather than capital. That change made it difficult for many co-ops to abide by the 15% limit on non-member income to keep their tax-exempt status. The RURAL Act once again exempts grants from being counted as income and is retroactive to the 2018 tax year.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (Ky) meets with Kentucky electric cooperative leaders in 2019. Photo: Joe Arnold

Without the fix, some co-ops would have had to start paying taxes this spring after receiving grants in 2018 or 2019 to repair storm damage, bring high-speed internet to rural communities or invest in renewable energy and energy-efficiency programs. Many co-op leaders feared they would have to raise rates for members to pay the new taxes.

The legislation attracted more than 300 co-sponsors in the 435-member House and more than half of the senators. The effort was led in the House by Reps. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., and Adrian Smith, R-Neb., and in the Senate by Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Tina Smith, D-Minn.

NRECA lobbyist Paul Gutierrez credited the victory to a collaborative campaign strategy that included co-ops’ grassroots efforts to alert their senators and representatives to the issue.

“This was an amazing NRECA team and membership effort, including co-op members at the end of the line,” he said. “We had great legislative champions in the House and Senate, and they worked tirelessly to get this included in the final tax package.”

Co-ops honor McConnell as 2019 ‘Distinguished Rural Kentuckian’

Highest honor awarded by Kentucky Electric Cooperatives

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (November 18, 2019) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was honored on Monday, November 18 as the “2019 Distinguished Rural Kentuckian” at the 73rd Annual Meeting of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. The award is the highest honor given by the statewide association of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives which serve nearly 1.5 million Kentuckians in 117 of 120 Kentucky counties.

“Senator McConnell is a champion for rural Kentucky,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “Time and time again, he has been there for co-ops when it matters most. And, what’s striking is how responsive he is to the issues of rural Kentucky and America.”

Perry said McConnell’s leadership securing access to sensible financing and USDA funding has helped Kentucky co-ops deliver safe, reliable and affordable electricity, and McConnell’s advocacy for sensible environmental regulations has protected the consumer-members of Kentucky co-ops.

“We know that Leader McConnell’s clout means good things for Kentucky and we appreciate his hard work and dedication to fight for rural priorities,” Perry continued. “As Majority Leader, he gets to set the agenda and because of that, rural Kentuckians have a lot to be grateful for. Our agenda is his agenda.”

“As a predominantly rural state, we’re made stronger by our heritage,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader McConnell. “From the Big Rivers to East Kentucky Power, your 26 statewide electrical cooperatives are making a real difference in the lives of families and communities. You’re helping power Kentucky’s future, support good jobs, and drive our economic prosperity. I’m grateful for your advocacy and keeping me up to date on your priorities, and I’m honored to receive this award.”

First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984, Senator McConnell is Kentucky’s longest serving senator and the longest serving Republican Senate Leader in U.S. history. In addition to serving on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senate Rules and Administration, he also serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee – the committee which holds jurisdiction over discretionary spending.

Through the years, Senator McConnell has fought for many priorities important to rural Kentucky, including major tax reform, regulatory relief, infrastructure, rural broadband development and healthcare. Senator McConnell is well-known as a champion for rural Kentuckians – their jobs, families and futures. He has secured vital funding for our communities and been the voice for all Kentuckians in Washington.